Life in the best “vividero” of the Caribbean – Barranquilla

by Sebastián Pabón Grecco

Barranquilla's sign welcomes newcomers. Photo:

For many people, Barranquilla is considered the best vividero in the world. You might ask yourself.. what is a vividero? Well, it’s a place where you can live without worries. A place where you can just relax and have fun, where you can find everything you need. A place where life is simple, somewhere where you can totally chill out! You see it all the time – tourists who come here never want to leave this amazing city, and no wonder either; we have the second biggest carnival in the entire world. Our citizens party and enjoy themselves for almost a whole week – and why not? Barranquilleros, aka “Costeños” (1) revel in this great event – a celebration of life and of all that is good. Moreover, we typically celebrate from as early as a week before Carnaval until, as we say here, “hasta que el cuerpo aguante” – “until the body holds” – aka – until we can drink no more.

A reveller in a tiger costume celebrates Carnaval on Via 40. Photo:

Another thing which clearly sets Barranquilla as the best vividero are the cheap prices for just about everything, including housing, utilities, transportation, and especially food.

Everyone here loves food, most of all the many “fritangas” which really just means fried stuff. On just about every street corner you can find fast food, and anyone who tastes a stuffed arepa won’t forget its delicious taste. A couple of other examples are hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, and the desgranados, which are a combination of different proteins such as grilled chicken, meat, sausage, and butifarra (2) , mixed with cheese, mayo, ketchup, and various house sauces, potato chips in small pieces, lettuce, and of course we can’t forget the bun. In some places, you can find BBQ ribs on top too. Mmmmm, Ahhgg! We especially love those. Barranquilla offers a smorgasbord of tasty food.


Butifarra Soledeña. Photo:
Chicken Desgranado. Photo:

If you want to know about the weather, it’s always warm and fabulous, on average 34°C, but it also depends on the season we are in; it could be rainy from May through July and windy between November and February. But Barranquilla is really famous because of the human warmth of its citizens – we’re very welcoming of new people and we embrace them, figuratively of course, until they become true “Killeros” (3).

Barranquilla weather. Photo:

As with most developing nations, Barranquilla has some social problems as well. And yet surprisingly, for most Costeños, the problems aren’t an obstacle to being happy and enjoying day to day life. The spirit of the city is strong. People of all ages, backgrounds and social statuses join together in celebration every year. It’s not uncommon to see people smiling from ear to ear. If you haven’t come yet, you should; we are waiting for you. But beware.. if you do come, you may not want to leave.

As Joe Arroyo said: “En Barranquilla, me quedo – In Barranquilla I stay!”

(1) “Costeños”: Citizens from the Colombian Coast.
(2) “Killeros”: A shortened version of what people from Barranquilla typically call themselves: Barranquilleros.
(3)  “Butifarra”:  A type of sausage typical of the region made with processed meat and spices.


Editor’s Note: We are constantly on the hunt for up-and-coming writers to share their stories about Barranquilla. If you are an ESL student in at least the B2 level, and you would like a chance to write, let us know!